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Buhari to Service Chiefs: Rejig operational strategies

…okays clampdown on drug peddlers, consumers

President Muhammadu Buahri has ordered the service chiefs to review their strategies in terms of operations and intelligence gathering in view of the deteriorating security situation across the country. National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), who disclosed this after a meeting of the security chiefs with the president yesterday, said that President Buhari had also okayed a clampdown on peddlers and users of illicit drugs in the country. According to the NSA, the security agencies have established a nexus between drug abuse and the rising trend of insecurity across the country. He said that the presidential directive to security chiefs to review operational strategies and methods of intelligence gathering was meant to further prevent catastrophes.

The high level security meeting, Monguno said, also discussed the issue of fully equipping the security agencies to enable them tackle insurgency and other forms of insecurity in the country. It was also agreed that Nigeria will continue to descend into the “bottomless pit of destruction” unless collective and concerted efforts were made to deal with the issue of drug abuse. “What he (Buhari) said today was virtually a reaffirmation of what he said the first time. Yes, Mr. President said ‘you (service chiefs) are doing your best, as far as I’m concerned, but there’s still a lot more to be done. I’m more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus.

This is something that I believe will be done in a very short time, but I just want us to keep hope alive.’ “I know how everybody feels. I know how Nigerians feel. Definitely, the president is not oblivious of the fact that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of government and I believe in his sincerity.

But again, since he’s not an octopus; since he’s not a spirit, if he delegates to people, then the onus is on them to actually fulfil the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society. “We must bear in mind that we owe a duty to the people that elected this government and at the end of the day, without securing the nation all other things such as revamping the economy and fighting corruption cannot be addressed,” Monguno said.

According to him, security reports from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) indicated that proliferation of drugs was on the increase despite the closure of the nation’s borders with some neighbouring countries. He said: “The problem here is that the reckless use of these substances are directly linked to the insecurity we are confronted with. Unless there is a collective, concerted effort to deal with this problem, it will only result in this country going down the bottomless pit of self-destruction.

“We don’t want that to happen and one of the ways of dealing with this issue is by using a whole of society approach in conjunction with the whole or government approach to achieve the whole of the national approach. “The problem is that dealing with such an issue as the proliferation of drugs is not as easy as it looks, even for the most developed country, because it is not a one sided affair. “You have a minimum of three parties operating at the same time, the drug peddler (the supper fly), the consumer (the junkie) and that person in the centre who has been entrusted with denying these drugs access into the country. It is important to note that if there is a compromise then things become tedious and problematic.

“So, what we did was to invite the chairman of NDLEA based on his report that all security agencies are studying, the president has resolved that we must wrestle this problem. This problem is directly linked. “If you look at the criminality, the colouration of each crime, especially kidnapping, banditry and terrorism, it is not the killing of the people, but the way people are killed goes to show one thing – it is extremely abnormal, inhuman and these acts can only be perpetrated by people who are out of their minds.

“One thing we in the security and intelligence arms have been able to trace is that there are certain drugs of choice that have saturated the entire landscape of the country. “These drugs are basically codeine, opiums, cocaine, tramadol and pertamines and of course cannabis sativa.

The popular drug of choice is tramadol, it is easily acquired. Tramadol has been the drug of choice for terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. If we don’t approach it decisively, we are going to be immersed in a great problem. By virtue of that fact, he who resides in the town, urban or rural areas, must be able to collaborate with agents of government in revealing these abnormalities.” The NSA, who acknowledged the gradual loss of confidence by the people in the nation’s security capabilities over the years, gave the assurance that the president was determined to restore the trust. “I know it has not been easy, there has been a gradual loss of confidence over the years and the president is determined to restore confidence.

“The Office of the NSA, in conjunction with other security agencies, will work on a blueprint in a short, medium and a long term to address this matter,” he disclosed. According to him, the second memo he presented at the meeting was tied to the situation of banditry in the North-West and North- Central zones “where you have a lot of illegal aliens working, just like what you see in the mining sector – illegal miners working with bandits and kidnappers.” On the crisis rocking Southern Kaduna, leading to the killing of several people, Monguno described it as a political matter, which was being handled by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. Monguno said that besides the postings on the social media, he had no details about the recent attack on the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents on his way to Baga. He, however, assured that Zulum and other members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum will soon meet with President Buhari to discuss the incident.

“It’s only after that meeting that I can really be able to understand the nitty gritty of what happened. But like you said, it’s unfortunate and I believe we’ll get over this issue,” he said. The Security Council meeting, which held at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, had in attendance the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

Others are the service chiefs led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. Also present are the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; the Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i and the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

Some of the ministers present at the meeting were the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi; the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyadi and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada.

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